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125 Years in Review – 1950s
On Dec. 17, 1953, the Knights of Columbus purchases for $2.5 million the land on which Yankee Stadium is built. When news breaks of the Knights’ acquisition, councils and members send congratulatory telegrams to New Haven.
Luke E. Hart becomes supreme knight in 1953; he is the first supreme knight to move to New Haven to assume his duties, reflecting the development of the Knights as a corporation.
A Catholic advertising program launched by Missouri Knights in the 1940s is adopted nationally by the Order during Hart’s administration. The ads encourage readers to learn more about Catholic teaching by contacting the Religious Information Bureau, later the Catholic Information Service.
In April 1951, the Order votes to fund the microfilming of irreplaceable documents from the Vatican Library, some dating to the pre-Christian era. The library at St. Louis University is named as the repository for the Knights of Columbus Vatican Film Library at St. Louis University; 9.5 million manuscript pages have been microfilmed and made available for scholars.
From 1951 to 1954, the Order spearheads efforts to place the words “under God” in the U.S. Pledge of Allegiance. On June 14, 1954, Flag Day, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signs it into law.
On May 10, 1959, Pope John XXIII becomes the first pope to visit a K of C playground in Rome.
On Nov. 20, 1959 the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C., is dedicated with more than 1,000 Knights forming the honor guard. Knights contributed $1 million, via a $1.25 per-capita assessment over five years, for construction of the 329-foot bell tower.